Preserving Summer

Last week my husband Brian and I found ourselves wandering through downtown Seattle when he suggested that we should head over towards Salumi and finally get a taste. You see four years ago when we were visiting this fine city we walked forever and a day with my uncles (that is another story) only to find it was closed and I was so heart  broken. I had read so much about it, even though I do not eat meat, I had to see it.

If you have not had the pleasure, Salumi is a family run little café/ deli that is run by Chef Mario Batali’s family. From what we heard it is to die for and only open Tuesday through Friday from 11AM – 4PM. I have been forewarned that a line forms out the door of its tiny space and many people stand and wait for a taste of Salumi’s loveliness.

I have heard that they cure their own Lamb Procuttio, besides curing and roasting other meats and also make all their own sauces. Needless to say Brian and I were hoping to finally have our taste buds delighted!

Sure enough we are a block away and we see a line and know we are close. As we get closer and grab our spot in amongst the waiting you can hear everyone mumbling of what sandwich they will order. After about only 15 minutes we were in and the aroma of this place was intoxicating.

It brought me back to when I would step into my Aunt Fran’s home and get a whiff of the sauce that has been on the stove all day simmering; I felt like I was in a day dream. Brian ordered the Porchetta Sandwich with peppers and onions, and I had the house Veggie which consisted of house made Mozzarella and fresh Pesto. We grabbed a seat in the corner and were ready to dive in. Brian took a bite and exclaimed “Ummph! That is good!”  I took a bite of my own – DELICIOUSNESS - and told Brian “There are a few things that will take me back to my roots and this was definitely one!”  That Pesto was so wonderful with such an aroma of basil that it made me miss New Jersey in the summer  and the garden of my Uncle Frank (my father’s uncle – there are a lot of Franks in my family) with all the basil plants he grew amongst many other vegetables.

 

Pesto and Mozzarella Sandwich

On our bus ride out of downtown it dawned on me that summer is ending and I need to have that flavor of fresh basil to last me through the year. I now had a mission on my trip to the farmers market the following Sunday. I must get basil, and make enough Pesto with it to last me throughout the winter. My challenge was on!  As I wandered through the market I came across a vendor who had really beautiful bunches of basil. I purchased two bunches and a head of fresh garlic (the other ingredients I knew I had), amongst other goodies for the week, and was happy to head back to our place and get started.  As I walked home I thought gnocchi would be the best bet for the pesto…but which kind, Ricotta or Potato? I settled on the Ricotta Gnocchi and some steamed fresh string beans.  I really could not wait to make or eat it.

 

 

BASIL PESTO

4 cups of Basil leaves (washed, trimmed, and dry)

3 cloves of Garlic

¼ cup of Pine Nuts, freshly roasted to golden

¼ cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese (at least ¼ cup to start)

  1. In the bowl of a food processor or blender combine the first three ingredients and a drizzle of your Olive Oil and begin to pulse your food processor or blender to break down your pesto. Once this is done you can leave your processor or blender running and in a steady stream poor in the rest of your Olive Oil until all combined into a paste like consistency.
  2. I personally do not add my cheese until I am ready to eat or use my pesto. It is now that I place my pesto into zip locked baggies, squeezing out the air to freeze until I am ready to use. When I am ready to use my pesto I defrost a bag of it and revive it with enough Olive Oil until I get the desired consistency I am looking for and fold in the freshly grated cheese.

*NOTE: On some occasions , when I am adding in the pesto “as is” and not thinning out I add the parmesan cheese right to it and work it into a past and add it to my dish. I do this when I am using it as a rub for fish and / or meat, or a soup.

**When I make a large batch or two of Pesto like this I make some for us to eat right away, I place a small amount in a jar with a layer of Olive Oil on top to seal it and place it in the refrigerator (usually good for about two weeks), and I place the rest in several zip lock baggies into the freezer to last through the winter.

***It is best not to add the cheese until you are ready to eat because from the moment it is grated it begins to lose flavor, therefore you should always great fresh when needed.

 

RICOTTA GNOCCHI

1 heaping cup of Ricotta

1 Egg (beaten)

2 ½ oz of AP Flour (extra needed for dusting)

¼ tsp of Black Pepper (freshly ground)

½ tsp of Sea Salt

Pinch of Nutmeg (freshly grated)

First, in a large bowl place your Ricotta and beat it well with a rubber spatula it smooth it out a bit and then stir in your Egg. Once combined add your Flour, Black Pepper, Sea Salt, & Nutmeg and mix together until combined.

Next, on a sheet tray you will want to sprinkle it well with extra AP Flour and fill a piping bag (fitted with a medium sized tip) with your ricotta mixture. Onto your floured tray, pipe out your ricotta mixture into bite size balls, sprinkle with more AP flour and place in the refrigerator to chill.

Finally, fill a pot with salted water and bring to a boil. In small batches drop several Ricotta Gnocchi at a time into the boiling water. When they rise, lift them out with a small strainer and place them in a bowl. Continue until all your gnocchi are cooked. Dress them with your Pesto (or sauce of your choice), and they are ready to eat!